CASA Responds to MESA Report

OTTAWA, Sept. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - In a paper released today by the Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid (MESA) project, Dr. Matthieu Chemin of Universite du Quebec a Montreal questions the efficacy of needs-based grants on graduation rates. While students are not prepared yet to comment on his research itself, it is important to stress that needs-based grants lower student debt and have important benefits beyond the graduation rate.

"Students are faced with a crippling amount of debt, which inevitably affects their choices upon graduation," said Arati Sharma, National Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. "For instance, they may not be able to get a mortgage, start a family, start a small business or pursue graduate studies."

In his paper entitled "Does Student Financial Aid Cause More Participation in and Graduation from Post-Secondary Education," Dr. Chemin explains that while needs-based grants do increase participation in post-secondary education, they do not have an effect on graduation rates. Missing from this study is the effect needs-based grants have on student debt. For every dollar that a student receives in the form of a needs-based grant, it is one less dollar they will need in student loans.

"Graduating a skilled work-force is critical for Canada and by burdening students with debt we limit their potential to contribute meaningfully to our economy," said Sharma. "In this competitive knowledge economy, Canada needs to support innovation and entrepreneurial efforts - not stifle them."

CASA believes the government must recognize that needs-based grants help get post-secondary students in the door, but more work needs to be done to ensure students are supported throughout their studies in order to sustain completion rates and relieve debt.

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is a non-partisan, not-for-profit national student organization composed of 24 student associations, representing 400,000 students from coast to coast.

SOURCE Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview, please contact: Jillian Flake, Public Relations and Communications Officer, Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, Tel.: (613) 236-3457 ext. 224, (c) (613) 868-6605, Email:

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